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The following includes excerpts from a recently released eBook, An Enemy Lies Within, which is available from each of the major distributors (Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, etc.).

For with the heart one believes unto righteousness… Romans 10:10

The heart of man desires – perhaps more than anything else – to be filled with faith. Consequently, the Christian heart is hungry for the (rhema; spoken) word of God.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17

Jesus explained to His disciples that our ability to hear and understand God’s voice was proof of our belonging to Him.

And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ Luke 8:10

However, having ears to hear does not guarantee hearing. Sixteen times in the New Testament, Jesus encouraged His listeners with:

He who has ears to hear, let him hear! Matthew 11:15

It is the heartfelt desire of everyone involved – Father, Son, and children – to know, hear and understand God’s voice. So, why are so few hearing and understanding? Why are so many disappointed and frustrated regarding their ability to know it is God’s voice? Should it really be this difficult?

How do we respond to Jesus’ command to let ourselves hear? Consider the following three simple and easy keys for our knowing, hearing, and understanding the word of God.

Hearing – even for those blessed with ears to hear – is not a passive exercise. As with any conversation, the hearer must give attention to the one speaking (Mark 4:24). Perhaps we do not hear more from God because we fail in this area. Who would continue speaking to someone that is obviously disinterested or unaffected by what is being said?

Key #1: Become an active listener during quiet times of prayer.

Hearing God’s voice has been compared to listening to the radio, as if God is continually talking to us, waiting for us to “tune in”. The comparison is preposterous; an insult to the Living God. He is far too relational to communicate in this way. He waits for us to turn a listening ear and attentive mind to His words of faith.

Consequently, the carnal mind seeks to distract, discourage, and discredit. It distracts us with a thousand other thoughts, discourages us when we fail to hear, and discredits God for seemingly ignoring our pleas for attention and asking impossible things of us. The carnal mind seeks to convince us that investment in hearing from our Creator is a waste of time and energy.

Key #2: Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2Corinthians 10:5).

If God speaks to you and you are not obedient, then you have sinned against Him, and 1John 1:9 is your only recourse. It does not matter that you did not hear, or you were distracted, or you did not understand. God does not speak to be ignored or misunderstood. Excuse-making, deflection, and blame-shifting are tactics of our carnal mind in its war against God and His children.

Key #3: Take responsibility for your obedience to God.

If you are feeling uneasy about hearing and understanding, receive that feeling as loving conviction to pay more attention, and/or clean your ears of whatever is messing with the message, and/or spend more time listening for clarification. If you seek Him with your whole heart, you will find Him. God truly loves speaking with His children.

Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

A recent article posted on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter claimed that God is for us and should not be feared. I am sure the author means well, but his perspective is quite misleading and humanistic. Let me explain.

God is for Himself!!

When the nation of Israel was about to attack Jericho, Joshua had this encounter with the Angel of the LORD:

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”

So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Joshua 5:13-14

The Commander of the army of the LORD was neither for Israel nor for their enemies. He was for the LORD; and He was determined to make sure that Israel was for the LORD, as well.

Bringing this forward to the New Covenant, the redemption prophecy in Ezekiel 36 states that God’s salvation of His people is for His name sake.

Therefore say to the house of Israel, “Thus says the Lord God: ‘I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went.'” Ezekiel 36:22

Furthermore, we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Jesus commanded that we fear the LORD.

And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! Luke 12:4-5

Clearly, Jesus was not talking about awe and reverence here. And He was talking to His friends (i.e., the enemies of God). Speaking of which, we best fear becoming like them. Read the rest of this entry »

There are some passages that we would rather not think too much about. In most cases, failure to think invites disaster.

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. Hebrews 12:14-17

Pursue means to “seek after eagerly, to earnestly endeavor to acquire”. One translation reads “make every effort”; another, “strive”. This latter view reminds me of Jesus’ astounding revelation in Luke 13:

And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Luke 13:22-24

Striving for peace with all people is hard enough; it rings of “love your enemies (Matthew 5:44).” But this matter of holiness is the matter we struggle to embrace. Does this passage really mean that holiness is to be pursued? By whom?

What if our pursuit fails? Will we truly miss out on seeing the Lord? Is that a sweet-by-and-by thing, or something that also affects our relationship with Him now?

How do we respond to the warning that follows? What does it mean to fall short of the grace of God? How does something become defiled if it has not already been cleansed?

Esau was a profane person who sold His birthright. He despised the promised blessing of his father, and God hated him for it (Romans 9:13). What does this mean for a born-again believer?

Can we sell our birthright? What does it mean to be rejected by our Father (see Matthew 7:21-23)? What does it mean to find “no place for repentance (see Hebrews 6:4-6)?”

These are serious and sobering questions that every Christian should be asking themselves.

Let me close with this: What does “one morsel of food” look like for a son and daughter of God? What might our carnal mind deceive us into believing is more important than our birthright? As leaders, how do we help others avoid this tragedy?

God bless you with wisdom and courage to resist the temptations of our enemies.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. Romans 8:5-7

The carnal mind is, by its very nature, self-seeking and rebellious; it can be nothing else. This is the source of its enmity with God. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the desire to reason like God was forever linked to our fallen state.

This does not end when we are born again. We are given a new heart and spirit, but the mind remains carnal. Turning to our carnal mind – something most have been trained to do since kindergarten – invites the rebellion and sin of our carnal flesh.

Consequently, our carnal mind must be exposed and overcome. This is accomplished by the renewing of our mind – an iterative and ongoing process that depends on our submission to, and active participation with, the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:2; 2Corinthians 3:18).

Our reckoning (logizomai) the truth of God’s word serves as a catalyst for the renewing of our mind. Together, reckoning and renewing are important steps in our becoming obedient to the faith (Romans 1:5; 16:26). Read the rest of this entry »

Most leaders have very little difficulty filling their calendars; many have people (invited and not) that help them squeeze the most out of every day. Sometimes we get so active in so much productive work, we lose consciousness of our purpose.

Rushing down the difficult path – even in a daze – is better than wandering off after the world. God has prepared good works for us to walk in. None of us want to miss an opportunity to please the Lord and be an instrument of the Father’s glorify.

However, there are times in most leaders’ lives when it all gets rather distracting, binding, and exhausting. We feel like we are losing focus, our calendar is managing us, and the good work has become a burden. Our attitude and productivity begin to suffer… almost as much as the people around us.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the work we forget to ask the most basic question:

Why am I here?

This is the question we should ask ourselves:

  • Every morning;
  • Before every meeting, activity, or encounter with another person; and,
  • Several times during the day.

This is critically important: The key to “why am I here?” is knowing who or what we have gone to for the answer. Many of us have been trained to solve such problems with our reasoning – reasoning born out of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; reasoning that is often under the control of our carnal mind. Ask your carnal mind and you will get a carnal answer.

Remember, take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2Corinthians 10:5).

Now, if the carnal mind manages to sneak in some response (it is sneakier than we imagine), we can use that response to tell us something about our attitude. For example, if our carnal mind says we are here because we have to be, that’s a problem. First of all, this response is simply not true; it is a very base deception. We all have free choice. Read the rest of this entry »

When two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name, He has promised to be with them (Matthew 18:20). My general attitude towards this verse has been that He is there for us – to give us revelation, or bless us in some other way. This realization has left me ashamed (and probably not as much as I should be).

Jesus Christ is Lord!

He is the Lord!

Jesus joins our meeting for Himself and His Father in Heaven. I have dishonored Him in this regard, in practice and in my writing. I confess my sin and pray He will forgive me and deliver me from this horrid unrighteousness. I repent and pray for grace to never think, speak, or write this way again.

It is baffling and disconcerting that I have missed such an obvious truth. For those that have wondered why I am so suspicious of the way I think, you now have some idea. I hate my carnal mind now more than ever.

I appreciate God turning this evil to His good purposes. I praise God for His patience and persistence with me.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Rob

BTW: The Lord used an article by A. W. Tozer to help me see through this deception. You can find it here.

Have you ever thought, “I don’t have time to manage my time?” You are not alone. It is ironic how little time people invest in making sure they are making good use of their time. Worst still, the busier we are, the less time we invest to make sure our busy-ness is worthwhile and profitable. I recognize this is not news; just consider it a reminder that time is the one thing we cannot get back, or produce.

That reminder suggests two opening words of encouragement. First, though He is timeless, God is the producer and owner of time. Secular self-help books and articles are not the place to turn for help with time management – particularly when you have access to the Author. Second, God will do exceedingly, abundantly more than we can ask or think with the time we surrender to His good work.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed… work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13

As a conscientious leader, you are already making plans for next year (if not, you should be). Regardless of your success in 2018, you may be thinking about taking things to the next level (it is the American way). Before you do that, consider some time management strategies that will help you focus 2019 on the One Who has given you that time:

  1. Establish your calendar before the chaos begins – daily, weekly, monthly, etc. If the Lord is your CEO, then lay your calendar out before Him (as an offering). Allow Him to manage your time in His supernatural ways.
  2. Put to-do items on your calendar. Treat them like meetings with important clients. Don’t allow interruptions. Stay focused. You have been given the gift of self-control. Use it.
  3. Don’t let your smart phone manage you. Set your attention towards God’s voice, rather than that of men. Return phone calls when you cannot do anything else (e.g., driving). If necessary, allocate 30 minutes in the middle and at the end of your day to return calls.

Remember, business and spiritual growth are processes. Be patient with yourself and those in your spheres of influence. Also, decisions are more important than actions. Setting aside time to make good decisions is one of the most profitable things you can do.

Finally, consider this: Read the rest of this entry »

It seems a bit late in coming, but I finally understand why a song, sermon, act of service, etc. can be humbling to the singer, preacher, etc. It is because these acts of worship are God’s grace and, consequently, greater than the person being used to deliver them. These blest individuals experience God using them as His instruments. His presence and power help them recognize their lack of sufficiency in the good work He is doing.

Oh, if we could only humble ourselves to recognize this about everything we are used to do for God’s kingdom. It is humbling to be His pen. It should be humbling to share a kind word with someone else. I confess: there is too much of me in too much of my life’s work.

Thank God, humility begets humility. There is hope for all of us.

Humility before God is surrender to His reign and control. It is “not I, but Christ who lives in me”. It is denying myself, taking up my cross and following after Christ in sacrificial love.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

The chief requirement for Matthew 5:16 is humility and surrender. Surrender is so much the starting point for every assignment. In most cases, we don’t know the assignment without first surrendering. Read the rest of this entry »

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 1John 5:3

No command of God is burdensome. If it seems so, then something is wrong with our thinking. We can dismiss or avoid considering this reality – to our spiritual harm. If you are sensing that inclination rising up in your mind, beware; for that is exactly what our carnal mind would encourage us to do.

Beware, indeed; for our love of the LORD is at stake here – the first and greatest commandment. Like His Father, the Son encourages, “If you love Me, keep My commandments (John 15:14).” Our obedience should be motivated by love.

Loving the LORD with all our heart, mind, soul and strength is not a burdensome exercise. Quite the opposite, it should be accompanied by joy and thanksgiving.

Out of enmity with God, our carnal mind would have us disobey; or, failing that, obey grudgingly. If we are not careful, our love will turn to burdensome obligation.

Resistance is warranted. We must overcome our carnal mind!

What does it say about our Christian walk if our lives are burdensome? If we are living under His reign – only doing what He commands – should we be so burdened?

  • Perhaps we are doing more than He commands – introducing unnecessary burdens.
  • Perhaps our love for God is inhibited in some way – the burden we feel is due to disobedience.
  • Perhaps we are allowing our carnal mind, in vulnerable moments, to convince us that His commands are burdensome.
  • Perhaps we have not come to believe the reality of 1John 5:3.

Read the rest of this entry »

In God’s economy, we have no right to a particular standard of living, nor to pursue one. Like Paul, we must learn to be content regardless of our standard of living (Philippians 4:11-12). Indeed, this mindset is prerequisite to our doing “all things through Christ, who strengthens me (v.13).”

We have what we have either because God has given it to us, or we have claimed and carved it out for, by, and to ourselves. For the vast majority of us, there is a mixture; and it is hard to determine what falls into each of these two categories. It may be time for an assessment of the situation.

It is also difficult and threatening to consider what needs to go. Some things we possess will never be anything but the weight and sin that so easily ensnares us (Hebrews 12:1). Or, alternatively, God may consecrate an ill-gotten possession for His eternal use. Recognizing that presumption is an unsafe tactic, how do we know what God would have us do? Read the rest of this entry »

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